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SALARY PAYMENT IN United States Dollar (USD, $)

CONTRACT LANGUAGES English

PAYROLL TAX  15.3% (federal)

PAYROLL CYCLE Bi-weekly or weekly 

TIME TO HIRE 12 hours

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United States

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    Hire Employees in the USA - Overview

    The USA has the strongest economy in the world: Ranked 6th in the world for Ease of Business, the US is an innovation and tech capital, with a well-educated and highly-skilled workforce.

    As the world’s economic powerhouse, the USA is a prime location for hiring overseas staff, but in doing so it is crucial to follow American labor laws and employment etiquette.

    In this guide, we set out everything you need to know about hiring employees in the US.

    Map United States of America

    Facts & Stats

     

    Population

    337.341M (Labor Force 163.5 million)

    Capital City

    Washington D.C. 

    Languages Spoken

    English

    Currency

    United States Dollar (USD)

    GDP per capita

    $69,531 

    Ease of Doing Business

    6th in the world

    Minimum Wage

    $7.25/hour 

    Average Wage

    $4,297/month

    Paid Leave

    No legal requirement (though 10-15 days is common)

    USA: Business Environment

    Business outlook

    After falling into recession in 2020 the US economy rebounded strongly in 2021 with an annual GDP growth rate of 5.67%, a 2.3% increase on the pre-pandemic rate. Through 2022 the growth rate has slowed, with the OECD forecasting an annual GDP growth of 2.5%, and a fall to 1.3% in 2023.

    Business operating costs continue to increase. Tightness in the US labor market has led to wages increasing across the country. Lingering issues with global supply chains and the conflict in Ukraine are sighted as factors contributing to rises in the price of commodities. As such, at 7.7% in Q4 of 2022, inflation remains above the Federal Reserve’s 2% target. 

    Business regulation

    In the United States, labor laws are imposed at the federal, state and local level. The US differs from other advanced economies in that its labor laws do not provide for many of the minimum rights of employment and benefits that are seen in European countries or Canada. For example, US employers are not required by law to pay employees for time not worked (paid vacation) and the concept of at-will employment means employers can dismiss employees without having to establish ‘just cause’.  

    At the Federal level, the US Department of Labor enforces a number of key pieces of employment legislation, including;

    • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act 1964
      • Title VII prohibits discrimination relating to matters of employment
    • The Equal Pay Act 1963
      • protects against pay discrimination based on sex
    • The Fair Labor Standards Act 1948
      • establishes minimum wage rights and other standards relating to employee remuneration
    • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act 1967
      • protects mature candidates against age discrimination 
    • The Family and Medical Leave Act 1993
      • requires employers to provide qualifying employees with leave and job protection for medical and family reasons
    • The Occupational Safety and Health Act 1970
      • requires employers to maintain a suitable working environment, free of recognized hazards

    State law tends to mirror federal law, with some states mandating more employee protections and employment benefits than others. For example, California has extensive employment laws, including additional legislation relating to pay equity and transparency. One example is section 432.3 of the California Labor Code which prohibits employers from seeking or relying on salary history information when assessing candidates’ suitability for a job.

    Business culture

    American business culture is highly individualistic and entrepreneurial. American employees tend to be highly motivated to succeed and pursue ambitious career goals. Employers who are able to successfully harness these qualities, by setting the right incentives and creating suitable work environments, are likely to succeed. 

    A professional attitude in terms of punctuality and service level are important characteristics but work ethic is considered the most valuable attribute. American employees work long hours with 50-hour weeks common across many industries. The USA has an extremely egalitarian business culture, with an individual’s accomplishments and talents respected more than their age or background.

    A final point to keep in mind is the level of legal controls. The USA is a litigious country, with companies often relying on litigation to settle disputes. We strongly suggest taking legal advice before entering into business transactions in the USA. 

    Recruiting employees in the USA

    Recruiting employees in the USA – Overview

    Recruitment is handled online in the USA with job portals and online interviews used to identify and assess candidates. With high competition for most jobs, the screening process is an important aspect of the hiring process. Recruiting software is often used to deal with large numbers of candidates, with pre-employment aptitude testing used widely. The types of tests used vary between industries and roles but cognitive and situational-judgment assessments are popular. 

    The strength of the resume (CV) and cover letter is also an important consideration. Whereas European cultures exercise modesty and look for potential in candidates, the US values self-confidence and candidates are expected to go into detail on their past successes and emphasize what it is they can bring from day one. Of course, the strength of the resume and cover letter must be backed-up by a strong performance in any interviews whether online or in-person.

    Most important recruitment tools in the USA

    • Indeed
      https://www.indeed.com/hire?co=US
      Indeed is the largest job portal in the world and, in the US, it has the largest database of candidate resumes. Thousands of job ads are posted daily across the full range of sectors.
    • LinkedIn
      https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions
      Since its creation in 2002, LinkedIn has added a suite of tools for recruiters and employers. The professional social network is particularly popular in the US where the tightening of the labor market is making employer branding an important consideration for employers looking to attract the best talent from younger generations.
    • Glassdoor
      https://www.glassdoor.com/employers
      Glassdoor’s popularity is due to its range of useful features that are built on user-generated content with a focus on transparency. Job seekers appreciate Glassdoor’s system for honest company reviews, whilst employers benefit from Glassdoor’s large database of salary data.

    Interviewing employees in the USA

    Interviewing employees in the USA – Overview

    When interviewing potential employees in the USA, employers must comply with various federal and state laws. For example, employers need to be aware of laws relating to discrimination such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Keep in mind that states go further than others in protecting the rights of job seekers in terms of discrimination categories and privacy. The need for care and expertise during the recruitment process is another reason to consider our USA Employer Record and PEO services.

    The specific format of job interviews varies across the USA. Some companies choose to conduct all of their interviews online whilst others opt for a combination of online and in-person interviews. As with job interviews in Europe or Canada, punctuality and presentation are important aspects of job interviews in the USA. 

    Can I ask the candidate’s previous salary in the USA?

    Questions about salary history are regulated by state law. Among states and local governments, the trend is moving in the direction of prohibiting employers from requesting information or asking candidates about their salary history.  

    See Industry Dive’s running list of states and local governments (city administrations) that have prohibited employers from requesting salary information from potential employees.

    What is the typical salary increase at a new job in the USA?

    When changing jobs, the typical salary increase in the USA is around 5%. This figure is an average that represents differences between industries and age brackets that employees fall under. The rate of annual salary growth tends to be higher for younger employees, for example, in 2021 workers aged 25-34 received a 9.8% salary increase when changing jobs whereas workers over the age of 55 received an average increase of 4.1%.

    Onboarding employees in the USA

    Onboarding employees in the USA – Overview

    The onboarding process is an important step in the hiring process. In the USA, workplace interactions are predominantly informal and colleagues are generally relaxed about sharing details of their personal lives with one another in the interest of building strong working relationships. In the USA, an effective onboarding process helps new employees get up to speed with company processes whilst also ensuring they have the opportunity to get to know their new colleagues

    Keep in mind that the onboarding process also involves legal obligations, such as establishing a contract of employment. At Horizons we have the relevant legal expertise to handle the onboarding of employees in the USA – contact us for a free consultation on your hiring project in the USA. Once the new employee has accepted the offer letter and signed the contract of employment the onboarding process moves onto the next phase: integrating the new employee. 

    Remote working and hybrid working models have been growing in popularity in the US over the past decade, and the trend accelerated in 2020 with the Covid19 pandemic. A 2022 study by McKinsey found that 58% of Americans (involved in the study) have the opportunity to work from home at least 1 day per week. The same study found that a large majority of American workers are in favor of flexible or hybrid working models – a key consideration for employers designing employee benefits packages. 

    Best remote working tools to use in the USA

    A number of tools are used to manage and facilitate remote working arrangements in the USA.

    • Slack is used widely by businesses in the USA as an additional means of workplace communication. The app is particularly popular amongst remote teams for its clean user interface and the ability to share files and easily search logs of previous messages. 
    • Asana is a collaborative working platform with powerful features for managing remote teams. The platform allows for the mapping out of projects and workflows in visual dashboards and the allocation of specific tasks to team members.
    • Microsoft Teams is a collaboration tool that gives remote teams the ability to host audio and video calls, instant messaging and file sharing. Perhaps the most significant feature is the ability to sync Microsoft Teams with the wider suite of Microsoft Office programs. 

    Holiday season in the USA — 2024

    While the Family and Medical Leave Act (1993) entitles employees to 12 weeks of unpaid vacation, for qualifying reasons, the law of the United States of America has no legal minimum in relation to paid vacation, otherwise known as paid time off (PTO).

    Certain states have legislation on paid time off, but such legislation usually relates to paid sick leave. The states of Maine and Nevada are alone in having policies which allow for state-mandated PTO to be used for reasons other than illness.

    Although there is no legal minimum for annual leave in the USA, many employers include PTO as part of employee benefits in employment contracts. A standard agreement is usually 25 days per year accrued at a rate of 2 days for each month worked.

    The concept of public holidays does not exist in the USA. There are 3 non-federal holidays:

    DateHoliday name
    1 Jan, 2024New Year’s Day
    25 Nov, 2024Black Friday
    24 Dec, 2024Christmas Eve

    The decision to award non-federal holidays to employees lies with employers. As well as the non-federal holidays mentioned above, there are 11 federal holidays:

    DateHoliday name
    1 Jan, 2024New Year’s Day
    3rd Monday in JanuaryBirthday of MLK, Jr.
    3rd Monday in FebruaryWashington’s Birthday
    Final Monday in MayMemorial Day
    19 Jun, 2024National Independence Day
    04 Jul, 2024Independence Day
    1st Monday in SeptemberLabor Day
    2nd Monday in OctoberColumbus Day
    11 Nov, 2024Veterans Day
    4th Thursday in NovemberThanksgiving Day
    25 Dec, 2024Christmas Day

    Only federal employees are entitled to PTO on federal holidays, as standard. In the private sector, the decision to award PTO on designated federal holidays lies with employers.

    What is the typical salary increase employees in the USA expect?

    American employees typically expect an annual salary increase that matches or exceeds, the rate of inflation.

    A survey by a management consultant specializing in employee compensation, Pearl Meyer, found that the annual base salary increase for all employee groups in the USA amounted to 4.8% in 2022. 

    FAQs

    Remote working is increasing in popularity across the United States; as such, the quality of the freelance talent pool is improving. However, the concept of ‘at-will employment’ gives US employers greater flexibility than European or Canadian employers. For example, there is no legal requirement for US employers to provide ‘just cause’ when laying off employees. 

    The benefits of hiring an employee as opposed to a freelancer, include more contractual control. Ultimately the decision will depend on the circumstances of your business – for instance, businesses seeking to fill high-level roles would benefit from a more formal employment arrangement where contractual protections covering IP rights and non-compete clauses could be useful. You may also find it useful to consider a long-term recruitment model, such as Horizons’ retained search service

    Yes, US companies can hire foreigners provided they have attained the relevant certifications from the US Department of Labor – see ‘Alien Employment Certifications’. Only after certification has been approved can the work begin on securing a US work visa from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Of course, our team of in-country legal experts can assist with the process, reach out for a free consultation on your hiring project in the USA. 

    Commonly, businesses choose to set up a local entity in the U.S. in the form of a corporation. Note, incorporation is regulated by state law in the United States (with Delaware being the most popular state for incorporation). The disadvantages of setting up your own legal entity revolve around the steep learning curve and legal costs and getting up to speed with the myriad legal and taxation requirements at the federal, state and local level. This is what makes an Employer of Record particularly helpful.

    By choosing to partner with Horizons as your USA Employer of Record you can benefit from our team of in-country legal and recruitment experts. As well as a rapid market entry, we also provide assistance with necessary processes, including; talent acquisition and in-country HR services, such as the drafting of strong employment contracts and payroll

    Recruitment agencies and job portals are viable options for companies who have established corporations however you will also require additional legal services to ensure compliance with US law. Instead of working with multiple stakeholders, many businesses choose Horizons to handle the entirety of your USA hiring project. We are experts in US talent acquisition and, thanks to our established networks and knowledge of hiring markets in different states, we can ensure you hire the best possible workforce in the USA. 

    Hiring in the USA, Made Easy

    Your business can easily hire employees in USA without opening a local entity. We handle local employment law, complex tax regulations, and international payroll in 180+ countries worldwide. All you need to do is focus on your business.

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